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Kgamane: I leave with a heavy heart

When President Mokgwetsi Masisi and Bangwato converged at the Serowe main Kgotla last year, I made a sincere appeal to both government and Morafe to protect me. I did so because I felt so vulnerable and weak in a moment of war.

I made this appeal in anticipation of an uncomfortable future where the sacrificial lamb will be none other than myself. This prophesy has come to pass. I leave with a heavy heart, especially by the way in which the government has treated me in light of all these. Not even accorded a time to say my goodbyes or do a proper handover after 34 years of national service.

Above is a heart-piercing account of Kgosi Sidiegeng Harrigan Kgamane, the sacked Bangwato regent king and a man behind the longest regency in the history of Botswana, having held for 34 years, the fort for Ian Khama since his days at the barracks. History, without a doubt will best remember Kgamane as a victim of circumstances who did not live to see and say his goodbyes to his people and his masters-the state and paramount Chief -Ian Khama. When the conflict between the president, Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama reached its crescendo, Kgamane, by virtue of his position, was in the crossfire, caught between two masters, all of whom he had served diligently.

By his grace, an opportunity presented itself that all affected parties, expect Khama, were under the same roof in Serowe. Kgamane says he then decided to seize the opportunity to make desperate appeal to all to spare him for he was not born a warrior but a servant. I made that appeal thinking all have ears. I said to all-please protect me. My point of departure on that note was that ha di lwa digata marojana (its the grass that will suffer when two elephants fight). All did not listen. The bickering continued and I was torn between the two authorities pulling apart. The pressure was too much to bear, I felt weak in mind and body. I felt helpless, he says.

Kgamane says when this all happened, all parts of his life suffered, including his family. A father of four, three daughters and a son, his worry, he says was how his family was being affected by his situation given especially his advanced age. Some of my children are government officers and they would be asked all sorts of questions by whoever thought could get a better explanation from them. I felt defeated and without options. I felt for my Morafe, he adds.

When the government moved to misdirect its wrath towards him as a mere messenger of the King, Kgamane says deep anguish enveloped him: Upon realizing that I may not be able to keep up with the developments and their pace, I approached Kgosikgolo Khama for release to go and rest. It was on the 22 of April 2022. He agreed and upon requesting to serve a three months notice to government to do my goodbyes, I was to my shock, slapped with a dismissal letter.

Kgamane says his heart nearly stopped pumping. Nobody wants to leave like that, especially after my sacrifices and undivided service to the people. I felt betrayed and abused by my government given my long and dutiful service. I felt a deep anger and frustration because I dont think I deserved that treatment. I felt disrespected fired in a manner in which I was when I had especially requested to bow out in peace. Of all the developments accompanying this case, my dismissal has hurt me the most and with a permanent scar. I did not even have time to say goodbye to my people, my paramount chief, the people of Botswana and my government, he said.

Kgamane has vacated his house given to him by Bogosi and says he is now back to his roots, Shoshong where he comes from and where he was plunged from to the service of Bangwato. Interestingly, it appears like he does not own land or a house in Serowe despite his long stay at the village. I have always stayed in a house provided to me by Bogosi. I did not have an idea to own residence in Serowe because I knew that I have a home in Shoshong to go back to once my term was over, he explains.

On his state of mind amid everything that has occurred, Kgamane says: I have counseled myself. Time heals everything. I will forgive but nobody in my situation will forget what my government has done to me. I do not think they did not understand my predicament. It was pure heartlessness and an insensitive act. I am deeply hurt and I wont lie about it. On the way forward, Kgamane says he is taking things slow but will be focusing on his farming hobby. I have just drilled a borehole and will be pursuing irrigation system.

He takes long to respond when asked about his legacy, a clear testimony that the end is not what he had anticipated. Finally he responds with a heavy sigh, I will leave that for you to judge. If you ask me, I will say I have done my utmost to fulfill my duty. Like all men I am not a saint but I do not think my shortcomings should define me either, just as my successes. All I can say is that I did my part and did it with pride and a great sense of duty. How all has ended I believe should not be what defines my legacy.

Given a chance to say his last messages to Khama as he could not according to his account, Kgamane says: I am sorry my master for the turn of things. If you felt I did not measure up to anything, please pardon me. I am sorry that I did not handover the way I had wanted to. I am sorry that I leave the tribe in this state and I want to tell you that I remain available to serve in different capacities as may be seen fit by yourself in the future.

To Morafe, he says: Nobody anticipated and knew about this turbulence. Neither did I. If I have fallen short of your expectations please find it in your heart to pardon me. Like you, circumstances were beyond my control. I remain at your service should the need arise in the future. Remain united and at peace as you and I had hoped. To the government? I did not think it will end like this. I hope one day I will forgive those who did this to me. My heart bleeds for the way I was treated and fired like a dog after my service to this country. Everybody knows I did not deserve this kind of treatment.

Once a chairperson of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, which plays advisory role to government, Kgosi Kgamane says he dreams of a day Dikgosi will be respected and acknowledged for their role in nation building as it used to be the case. A somewhat devoted servant of the people with an abiding commitment to his people, the 73-year-old Kgamanes national service stretches back to 1974 during his days as an employee of the Central District Council before his installment as a regent in 1988 aged only 39 year. He was asked to pack his bags, leave his home in Shoshong to assume the Bangwato chieftaincy which to date, has been subjected to regency since 1926 during Tshekedi Khamas regency.

Like their father, Sir Seretse s three sons Ian Khama (heir apparent) and his two twin brothers, Anthony Khama and Tshekedi Khama were still available to take up the seat, and also available were Seretses uncle, Kgosi Tshekedi Khamas four sons who could be regents. In an interview this week, Khama described Kgamane as a loyal and obedient man who like many of his associates was sacrificed by the government to get back at him. He is truthful and humble gentleman who has served with so much devotion to this country and Bangwato. I wish him well, said Khama

As would be known, Kgamanes departure has left a vacancy and tribe in destitution. Khama who is currently in South Africa does not hint much on taking over the seat but rather saying serving and submitting to the current vindictive regime will be like giving it legitimacy. If resuming usurping full chieftainship duties means being on the regimes payroll and reporting to such incompetents that would be like a teacher having to be taught by primary school kids, he said.

Addressing Dikgosi this week, the Minister of Local government, Kgotla Autlwetse said Kgamane was dismissed following his repeated hosting of Kgotla meetings where the subject Ian Khama was discussed. He rebelled over several warnings to cease doing so hence a decision for his dismissal. He said Kgamane will be given all his dues by the government. On whether sacrificing Kgamane will pave way for peace or set anybody free as is common occurrence with many sacrifices remains a mystery which can only be explained by the future.

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FaR property assets value clock P1.47 billion

6th December 2023

FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.

FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.

One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.

The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.

Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.

In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.

FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.

The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BPC Signs PPA with Sekaname Energy

4th December 2023

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.

The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.

Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.

The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.

Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.

Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.

In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.

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UDC deadlock: Boko, Ndaba, Reatile meet  

4th December 2023

It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.

The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.

The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.

One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.

The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.

Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.

The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.

In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.

The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.

 

 

 

 

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